ESL club, librarian help immigrant land a job in her field
This story begins in December 2019, when Arzu Ozcan first moved to the United States from Turkey.
"As far as I can remember," Arzu said, "two weeks later, I came to Schaumburg Library."
Now a Schaumburg resident, Arzu came to Schaumburg Township District Library with her son several times a week to play and borrow books. Then the pandemic hit and they stayed safe at home for a while.
In 2021, when she felt safe coming back to the library, Arzu decided to join the library's ESL Conversation Club as a way to improve her English.
"Programs like the Conversation Club will help you get to know the people living in your neighborhood and make friends," Arzu said.
"You don't hesitate to talk to your classmates in ESL class, as you know that their English is not perfect either. The most important thing I can say is that I felt comfortable in the ESL class. I also learned about Upwardly Global thanks to Schaumburg Library and Claudia."
Arzu is referring to Claudia Baranowski, Schaumburg Library's Literacy librarian.
"Around the time Arzu joined our Conversation Club," Claudia said, "I invited Upwardly Global to come and speak to the group. It was a perfect fit, as they help immigrants and refugees with international credentials to restart their careers in the United States."
Through the library's introduction to Upwardly Global, Arzu met job coach Tamar Frolichstein-Appel, who also leads the team of coaches supporting those seeking jobs in health care. Tamar and all Upwardly Global job coaches meet with individuals to understand their skills, experience and training, then work together with them to create a resume, identify jobs to apply for and even practice for interviews.
"With Arzu, the first thing that I noticed was her enthusiasm for learning and working," Tamar said. "We offered her access to training resources to help her learn about working in clinical research in the U.S. We stayed in close contact, and I was happy to work with her on her interview skills."
Arzu thinks she wouldn't have found her current job without the help of Tamar and Upwardly Global.
"Frankly, it's not easy," Arzu said. "You find job postings, but what you talk about in the interview and how you respond are much more important. I have more than 15 years of experience in my field, but it would mean nothing if I didn't know how to express it -- and everything is different in the U.S. You need professional support to adapt to this change."
Thanks to the library making this connection, Arzu was able to transfer her medical and pharmaceutical company management career to the U.S., where she now works as a clinical research regulatory coordinator at Affinity Health.
"It's such a wonderful success story," said Claudia, the Literacy librarian who first introduced Arzu to Upwardly Global.
"When ESL students talk to me about their professions back home and express interest in restarting here, I happily refer them to Upwardly Global."
• Hollis Sienkiewicz is the director of Marketing and Communications at the Schaumburg Township District Library. You can reach her at email@example.com.